This is my very first guest post on this blog. I don’t usually go guest posts or have guests because I’m actually rather shy, even online, but when I heard that this particular writer was releasing a new book and needed volunteers to help her spread the word, I jumped at the chance. I’ve read her previous release, a compilation of very unique stories centered around zombies and love called, Hungry For You. If your haven’t read it, I honestly recommend checking it out.
Without further ado, I present A.M. Harte.
Choosing what to write isn’t always easy.
Whether for a guest post, a short story, or a novel, indecision can sometimes paralyse you as you wonder what you should be writing.
What will sell? What are the current market trends? How can we ever know what people truly want to read?
I hesitated when I sat down to write today’s guest post. I scratched my head and tried to figure out what people might want to hear. Eventually, fed up, I clicked onto this very blog in search for inspiration… and found the answer in the website header.
Write your own story.
Many of us have heard this advice before, but it’s often difficult to remember. Nothing makes my day more than an excited email from a reader, or a positive review, or even a nice royalty check. How can I not think about what people might like to read — specifically, what might make them like me (and my work) more?
It was N.M. Martinez’s website header that knocked the sense back into me. Who cares what people might want to read, if such a thing is even possible to identify?
I could write a novel based off of current best sellers in the hopes of vast commercial success, following the advice of every single writing guide in existence. But is that what I want to write, or what would fulfil me?
Write your own story.
Don’t think about anyone else. Write whatever you feel comfortable with, whatever makes you happy. It’s what I did with Above Ground. I knew the novel was never going to be picked up by a traditional publisher, but I wrote it anyway — and as a result I’ve met some amazing readers and fellow writers.
If you don’t believe in the story you’re writing, no one else will, either. But when you write your own story, your conviction shines through your work… and that is what lures readers in more than anything else.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying to ignore what everyone says. Get honest feedback from readers and writing buddies, and by all means ensure to have an editor look over your work prior to publication. I know that Above Ground wouldn’t be half the story it is today without the help and encouragement of so many people.
But the point is that editors and writing buddies are helping you make your story the best it can possibly be, instead of turning it into some generic mass-market template.
So what if Above Ground is a cross-genre dystopian novel with werewolves, reptilian humanoids, magic and technology? So what if even I sometimes stumble over Lilith’s name? So what if I’ve created a race of beings based off of newts? It was my story to tell, and I am proud to have written it.
And between you and me, there is nothing more rewarding than writing a story you love and finding that other people love it, too.
N.M. Martinez’s philosophy, on her about page, is that everyone has their own path to take.
I couldn’t agree more.
Thank you for such an interesting and flattering guest post. I truly believe in the message. Just like Hungry for You, Above Ground also sounds like a very unique story that you won’t find on just any book shelf. I can’t wait to read it!
As with any good book release, there is a giveaway! Eleven mystery prizes, each based off one of the letters in Above Ground. Please go here to sign up.
And go here to see the tour schedule. A new post every day this month!
A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the post-apocalyptic Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate. She lives in London, a city not half as foggy as some seem to think.
It’s not a good thing for a writer to brag. Or at least not good for this writer to brag because fate aims to keep me humble. But I feel as if I’ve made great strides recently and actually gotten a lot done. It’s too good a feeling not to share.
Since I’ve managed to come back, I’ve finished one short story and today I’m going to say I’ve finished another novella. I’m going to say I’ve finished, because it’s about as done a rough draft can be. Now it’s a matter of cleaning it up, tying things together, and making it all make sense. There were a lot of things in the rough draft I didn’t plan for but worked out perfectly. I may not know what’s always going on, but my subconscious seems to have a plan at least.
It’s been nearly a year since I put out my last book, one which hardly counts because it was a novella companion to Ruin, meant to offer an alternate view point of the world. I have to admit that I feel like I have failed in some way. I’d definitely planned to have more than just one book out this year.
I can’t completely blame real life. I can’t blame writer’s block either. I can’t really blame any one factor. The truth is that I’m still getting a hang of everything– not just the self-publishing, but the whole act of writing something and then working hard to make it polished. I’m not just writing straightforward stories. I’m always trying to push myself in small ways.
I’m still learning what I can get away with in book format. Sometimes, I feel like I’m a real writer, doing writerly things and experimenting with ways to tell my stories. Most of the time though, I feel like a sham. That’s what I let stop me cold. I’ve always suffered with self-esteem issues. (I know many people do.) And sometimes I let them get the best of me.
I think I stopped writing in April. I just didn’t feel I could. So I took a week off. Then two. Then a month. Then bad stuff happened that had no relation to my writing.
Here’s what I’m learning: Even when I don’t want to write, I need to write or else I let the dark part of me triumph. I haven’t quite learned how to make myself do it other than sitting down in front of the computer or on my notepad and just doing it. I have all sorts of simple ways to trick myself into writing. Ultimately, it always comes down to just taking the time to face my fears and get to work.
I’m taking everything in steps because I know myself. Best not to rush things too much. Most “marketing” I’m going to do will be passive or on weekends. By passive, I mean links in signatures or profiles while I’m commenting on things that make me want to say something.
And on weekends, well, I’ve been making lists of book bloggers. If there is even the slightest chance they may be interested in the genre I’ve claimed, then I put them down. Right now my search is for readers interested in science fiction, fantasy, and literature. Preferably all three.
But the rest is all about feeling. I not only look at submission guidelines, but I also check out their reviews and what they have to say about themselves, and if I like that, then I make a note that I’d like to try submitting my book to them. So far, I’ve come across one blogger that I liked so much after reading her reviews, her guidelines, and an extra interview she had linked that I submitted before I was even done with my list (my list which was sort of a stalling tactic this entire weekend).
It is just like querying, and I admit I’ve never done that or wanted to do that. It’s kinda frightening. There’s distance between my book and I now, but it’s still a frightening prospect to offer up something I’ve made for judgement. I’m more of a live and let live type of person. I read and write for enjoyment. If you look at my Goodreads page, I like everything I read, but that’s just because I don’t read things I don’t like, and if I don’t like something I read, I won’t bother rating or commenting on it.
Of course, one problem with looking at book blogging sites and being a reader is that I keep running across more books to add to the TBR pile. Like geeze. It’s as bad as posting a link to something on Etsy. So my tip if you’re looking for book bloggers? Cover your eyes, and try to land directly on their submission page! Oh, also, I’ve started a book blogger twitter list if you’re interested. There will be more added to the list. Mostly people who are friendly to self-pubbed and indies.